Arriving at the launch party for the premieres of All My Children and One Life to Live this past Tuesday night, for a moment, I thought I had been transported back to the heyday of soap operas in the 1970s or 80s. The starlets were dressed to the nines, the dashing men of daytime donned sharp suits or tuxedos, champagne was flowing and hors d'oeuvres were being passed around by gorgeous servers. The excitement was palpable in the room because people -- industry people -- were excited about soap operas again.
Seeing all the hubbub at Tuesday night's premiere, one really begins to wonder why ABC cancelled these beloved soap operas in the first place. Major news outlets are covering the shows returning. Everywhere you turn, you can't help but hear that All My Children and One Life to Live are coming back -- from The View to Variety to Entertainment Weekly, one of the major stories in the entertainment industry this year has been the return of the shows that were wrongfully put to rest in 2011.
The whole situation is rather genius if you think about it. Prospect Park has done a brilliant job of marketing these shows. Not only are they the first company to revive a long-running daytime drama (thus changing the game for the genre entirely) they are taking two brands with a combined age of over 80 years and basically making them cool again. Their marketing of the shows are slick, both shows are now being shown in HD and both shows are little bit naughtier because they aren't being broadcast on network television any longer so they can take bigger risks as far as language and nudity are concerned. For decades, ABC was clamoring to reach the much sought after 18-25 demographic and without even having aired the first week of episodes of either show, Prospect Park has managed to do so (although it remains to be seen rating wise as of yet) by featuring a young fresh cast that makes sense with the veteran characters viewers already know and love and slick promos, but most importantly a format that allows people to watch the shows at their convenience. Both shows will air on HULU to start, but if you miss them or want to watch them on the go, they are also available for download on iTunes and HULU Plus. In this day and age of millennials who are always on the go, this format is simply put: genius.
We'll never know whether or not the shows would have persevered had they stayed on ABC, but it seems to me that Prospect Park already has a leg up on ABC Daytime. The Revolution (the show that replaced One Live to Live in early 2012) was cancelled after just three months and The Chew, All My Children's replacement, which premiered to relatively dismal ratings is finally gaining ground nearly 18 months after its premiere. ABC tried to change the daytime game by replacing a combined total of over 80 years of American television history with lifestyle shows. There are a number of networks devoted to shows such as that so if people who had spent decades with the characters from All My Children and One Life to Live wanted to watch lifestyle shows, they would have simply turned into the Food Network or the Style Network after their soap operas were over.
Prospect Park's inability to find original funding for both projects has also turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Because the shows were not brought back when they were originally intended to, fans had all but lost hope. But, just like the heroine whose husband perished after driving off a cliff who ends up coming back years later, Prospect Park announced that the shows would return. Just like a good back-from-the-dead story that soap fans live for. This got not only the fans, but the press excited.
While it's unclear whether or not the fans will flock back to these beloved shows, several things are very clear. People are excited about soap operas again and if Prospect Park's gamble pays off, they will have not only officially changed the way millions of people watch soap operas but the industry forever.
All My Children and One Life to Live both return on Monday April 29, 2013 on HULU, HULU Plus and iTunes at 12pm.
Follow Mark Brennan Rosenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markbrosenberg